Recorded June 6, 2017
Matty and Shaun Schapira are back this episode to talk more about comic books. Particularly, the duo take a look at some of the better titles from the top two publishers.
Why, hello friends! I feel like the past months and a half flew by. Maybe it did. (It did.) I’m staying busy down here in sunny Orlando. The weather is starting to heat up. Last week, I planned on dropping a blog but I stayed out by the pool way too long. So long, in fact, that I had not seen that hue of red upon my skin in years. Seriously, I was afraid I really overdid it. Fortunately, the discomfort has subsided and I am now less “ah-peeling.”
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Oh, you reached for that quip.
Sit tight, “Ed.” There’s plenty more where that came from.
As some of you may have noticed, articles I’ve written are popping up on the site. These stories are part of my work toward my journalism Master’s degree. (I graduate in Oct.) Expect to see more in the months to come. I’m now in the middle of figuring out my “thesis,” more-or-less. Wish me luck. Surprisingly enough, it’ll revolve around comic books. Somehow.
And speaking of comics, boy, have I been reading a lot. I often speak of my love for famed X-Men scribe, Chris Claremont. Up until a few weeks ago, I owned, but never read, Claremont’s introduction to Madripoor in the first Wolverine on-going volume (second, technically). Following The Fall of The Mutants, the X-Men were considered dead to everyone on Earth. A TV news station (maybe CNN, I can’t remember, look it up) broadcasted the “death” of the X-Men. The world witnessed it—in reality, the X-Men traveled through the Siege Perilous with help from Roma. The “dead” X-Men scattered all over the world (like Dragon Balls after a wish). Some of them couldn’t remember how they arrived in their new settings (See: Colossus and Callisto). Wolverine, however, was aware of where he’d been.
In Madripoor, to help conceal his identity—no thanks to an encounter with a few nasties including the likes of Roughhouse—Wolverine adopted an eye patch. The locals gave him the nickname “Patch,” so, Logan naturally went with it. I know you’re asking yourself, “How could they NOT tell that “Patch” is actually Wolverine.” Simple. Back then (1988), Wolverine still wasn’t a household name. Not a lot of characters outside of the X-Men universe saw Wolverine without his mask. Besides, the X-Men always used their psychics to create a blur when photographed or videotaped. Trust me, it works.
Since the book’s release, Madripoor Nights had been on my radar. This collection consists of Marvel Comics Presents #1-10, Marvel Age Annual #4, and Wolverine (1988) #1-16. I loved MCP as a kid. That title, as well as Marvel Tales, were essential to me getting a grasp on the Marvel Universe as a kid. MCP usually consisted of three to four 6-10 page stories featuring characters that were: popular, but not enough for their own book, or, unknown characters that needed fleshing out (like Devil-Slayer). Claremont’s Save The Tiger was the set-up for Wolverine’s first ongoing series. In a way, MCP became Wolverine’s “2nd” ongoing series. After the Save The Tiger run, Wolverine would return to the book around issue #39—which is in and around the time I started flipping through comic books in general.
Madripoor is my favorite “fake” city in all of comic books. I find it unfortunate that none of the Wolverine films take place in the most dangerous city in all of Marvel—yes, worse than Hell’s Kitchen. For a better glimpse of “Lowtown,” check out Madripoor Nights. It’s essential Wolverine reading, and no one writes Wolverine better than Claremont—well, Morrison’s is good, but y’know what I mean. It’s not the definitive Wolverine—but it’s a great story.
Since I’m on the subject of X-Men, I’ve been super-happy with X-Men Gold and X-Men Blue. I had my druthers about ResurreXion—I’m still not sure if it’s an event, or—yeah, I dunno. Gold already made waves within the comic book community for all of the wrong reasons, but the story itself is excellent. It’s basically a three-part ruse. Kitty Pryde is well-established as the leader. “Old Man Logan” doesn’t evoke eye rolls. Mesmero returns. It’s fun! For my money, this first story feels like a filler story from Uncanny X-Men’s heyday in the early 80’s.
X-Men Blue is pretty neat as well. The out-of-time, “All-New X-Men” are working out of (where else?) Madripoor. Jean Grey is running the show—not sure how I feel about that with Cyclops playing second fiddle. Cyclops should be the leader. That’s like making Duke from G.I. Joe a grunt. It wouldn’t work. So, I’m interested how long Cyclops will play the wall before he either steps up, or dies. Another interesting caveat to this title is Magneto playing the role of “Professor X” once again. That usually doesn’t end well.
I’ve also read Jean Grey #1, which came out last Wednesday. After one issue, I see what Dennis Hopeless is doing with the character. Hey, it’s tough to be Jean. The previews of the next few solicits see characters like Prestige (Rachel Summers), Hope Summers, and Quentin Quire appearing in the book. It’s no secret what ties all these characters together. With the recent goings on in books like Mighty Thor and Thanos, the Phoenix is soon returning to the forefront of the Marvel Universe. I hope whomever it is that decides the Phoenix’s fate knows that the entity isn’t about “Death and Destruction.” The Phoenix is all about “Birth and Rebirth.” With Marvel Legacy rumored to be Marvel’s “DC Rebirth,” it would make sense if the Phoenix is partially responsible for reshaping the entirety of the Marvel comic book universe.
Ah, with all of this talk about some of the things I’ve read recently, let’s take a look ahead at what’s on the docket for today.
PULL LIST FOR 5/10/2017
When I visited Star Wars Celebration weekend, I attended the Marvel Comics panel which featured Charles Soule and Phil Noto. One of the comics they introduced was Star Wars: The Screaming Citadel. They sold it to the crowd as a Star Wars horror comic—an interesting concept. I’m also excited to read this series because it crosses over the Star Wars ongoing title written by Jason Aaron and the Doctor Aphra series written by Kieron Gillen—who writes the Screaming Citadel one-shot. This is the second time Marvel has given the Star Wars comics a crossover event (see: Vader Down). I thought the first one was a successful adventure. Let’s hope Screaming Citadel is a freak show.
Oh, man. Renato Jones: The One% is my favorite series from 2016. Season Two begins today and I’m super-stoked. If you’re a rich scumbag doing stereotypical “rich scumbag” things, Renato Jones will find you at the worst possible time, and then he’ll likely kill you with his sick knife-gun thing. Kaare Andrews’s landscape is a perfect fit for this style of storytelling. The world of Renato Jones is not nice. He’s not necessarily a “good guy.” There are no white hats worn. He’s like the Punisher—but he starts “inside” because, in reality, Jones is a one-percenter much like his victims, and not a war-torn psycho hell bent on seeking vengeance for everything. Check it out.
Two of the steadiest comics in the game currently are Action Comics/all Supes titles and Amazing Spider-Man. Dan Slott’s run on Amazing is like retaining a Netflix/Amazon Prime/WWE Network/CHIKARAtopia subscription. It just rolls over. You don’t think about it, but every month, there it is. No questions asked. These services are a part of life for people in 2017. Slott’s Spidey is the definitive Spider-Man, and thus, a part of my life. He’s taken all of the stories from the past and managed to find a place for them in this age of comics. Sure, some people aren’t a fan of Slott personally, but that shouldn’t discredit the thread, or, web he’s weaved over all of these years.
The current state of Amazing is as good as it has ever been, in my opinion. I love the Green Goblin. Since the Dark Reign/Siege storyline, we haven’t seen a lot of “Normie” for several years. Leave it to Slott to build up to Osborn returning to make Spidey’s life miserable. Where’s Norman Osborn been? Oh, just leading an Eastern European nation. Where else? Like we really know how many countries have popped up in Eastern Europe for the past 20 years. Silver Sable also just recently returned for the “dead.” I’m usually cool with a “dead is dead” policy, but if a character is returning that I like, I don’t have a problem with it.
Let’s hope Wolverine gets the same treatment. Soon. Please.
Write to you soon.
Gang. What is happening? How was your weekend? Mine? Oh, not too shabby. A little CHIKARA Pro weekend that I wasn’t at all excited about.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] You know, at times, the readers can’t sense your sarcasm.
Oh boy, “Ed.” Can I at least say “hello again” for the first time in two weeks? Besides, there were no grammatical errors in my greeting.
[ED:] You wrote “shaggy,” not “shabby.” Fixed that. Technically, your last sentence about CHIKARA is not one.
You done? I write how I talk. My verbage butchers the English language.
[ED:] It’s “verbiage,” not “verbage.” Please, continue.
You left that in, didn’t you?
[ED:] Italicized, too.
Ugh. Anyway, I got to attend CHIKARA Pro’s Turn Left and Bad Wolf. Fantastic stuff. I will likely get together with Kevin Ford soon to discuss the awesomeness we both witnessed live. If you live under a rock, Wrestlemania took place Sunday from “The Citrus Bowl” in Orlando, FL. A $15 Uber fare from my home. Getting back from ‘Mania was a different, boring, and sad story of two guys who just should’ve gotten a ride from the other guy who ended up coming back downtown to pick up the stranded duo. But I digress. WWE never disappoints… Okay, let me rephrase that—Wrestlemania 33 was, in my opinion, the best Wrestlemania in maybe ten years. It was great time.
But let’s back it up. The highlight of my weekend came at Friday night’s Turn Left. A while back I bought Debbie Gibson’s 1987 chart-topper, Out of the Blue, on vinyl. For one, spinning it took me back to racing around a roller-rink after a tough day as a 2nd grader. Also: Altered Beast—which, now that I think about it, is associated with the roller-skating.
The point of the album purchase was for last Friday night. As soon as I walked into the building with Kevin and Heeltown USA’s Jerrelle Hamilton, there stood my target: CHIKARA’s Senior Official (ref), Bryce Remsberg. He and CHIKARA Director of Fun, Mike Quackenbush, host a bi/tri-weekly CHIKARA-centric podcast entitled #DeepBlueSomething. Now, I’d have to go back and listen to the first episodes. Can’t remember how the title came to be. In my brain, the “one-hit wonder” band, Deep Blue Something—responsible for 1995’s “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”—is where the name of the show came from.
[ED:] Indeed. Listen to the intro.
Well, okay, you’re right, Ed. I originally thought, “Pete and Pete?” But now that I think about it, when “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” was spinning on the FM radio every 30 minutes in 1995, I thought the song sounded like the theme song to Nickelodeon’s The Adventures of Pete & Pete.
So, yeah, #DeepBlueSomething is set by a standard of rules (which I love). In each episode, Mike and Bryce discuss: 1. Something old (about CHIKARA Pro), 2. Something new, 3. Something borrowed, and 4. Something blue—like the things a bride has to have as a part of her wedding ensemble. In one of the first episodes, Bryce tells a story of his childhood obsession with Debbie Gibson. Out of the Blue was the album that put Gibson on the map. The duo decided early on that “Debbies” is the moniker for the #DeepBlueSomething listeners. As a podcast host myself, it’s one of my favorites. The overall structure and flow makes it easy to listen to. Plus, if you’re fan of CHIKARA Pro—or pro-wrestling in general—it’s worth the spin.
Now let’s get back to entering the arena floor at the OLE. I walked up to Bryce with my album and blue Sharpie. He stood behind a merch table, selling his 8 x 10’s. I asked him if he could sign something for me. Bryce is nice. It’s his thing, so, of course he obliged. I pulled the album out of the parcel in which it was originally delivered. Bryce immediately said that signing Debbie Gibson’s Out of the Blue made his weekend. It was a super-nice thing to say and exactly the reaction I wanted to get out of him at the start of a busy weekend. But, I wanted Mike to sign it as well. Like a Mutant telepath, Bryce asked if I wanted Mike’s autograph before I could. A few minutes later, I was graced with an album cover even more beautiful than it was before. I think both of them got a real kick out it—my favorite referee and one of pro-wrestling’s true superheroes. Last weekend ruled.
What else, what else? Oh yeah, comics! Last week was rather hectic. Not a lot of quiet time to read many titles. I did manage to get through the X-Men Prime one-shot that reset the X-Men (again.)
[ED:] Wait for it.
No, Ed. I’m not going to take a dump on the story. Reading this book “reset” some of my feelings and analysis.
[ED:] I thought the X-Men were a lost cause? Your favorite heroes were no longer your favorite heroes. Boo hoo.
Shut your mouth with your mouth. Did you read it?
[ED:] I’m your editor. That’s literally all I do.
Okay, then. Shush it up because the events in this quick story about Kitty Pryde’s return to the X-Men may have a glimmer of hope for the future. Look, you can go back to the past few weeks and read about my feelings on where the X-Men stood within the Marvel Universe during and following Inhumans vs. X-Men. Marc Guggenheim and Collen Bunn may be on their way to slowly but surely making X-titles readable again for long time readers and new ones as well. I emphasize the word “slowly” because that’s the only way to “Rebirth” the X-Men. The aforementioned Kitty Pryde is now “Cyclops.” Storm is now “Professor X.” Old Man Logan is… ugh. I just can’t dig it. Bring back the real one. It’s weird and, I don’t know? Unnecessary, maybe? Oh yeah, and the real Scott Summers should be on his way back soon too (while they’re at it). They don’t elude to that in any way during Prime, but wishful thinking helps.
Spoiler: The Jean Grey School for Higher Learning is now set dead in the middle of Central Park. Magik teleports it from Limbo to New York, but they don’t show it. I’ve been taught to “show, not tell” for so long I want to eat the Sun. I wasn’t a big fan of the reveal, but I like the X-Men back in New York. What I’m curious to see is if editorial explain how the subbasement that stretches for acres teleported inside the ground with grass and the terrain totally unaffected.
[ED:] It’s comic books, you fool. Let it happen.
This is coming from someone who has never read a comic book.
[ED:] I’ve read your sad attempts. That’s enough, yo-yo boy.
Ouch. Well, maybe I’m being a little too nitpicky, but I still thought that the final pages of an important new beginning weren’t fully presented to the reader.
Outside of learning of the new X-Men status quo, I didn’t get around to Infamous Iron Man last week, but I am surely catching up soon. The one book that surprised me when I saw it on the shelf was none other than the second volume of Alex Ziritt and Fabian Rangel Jr.’s Space Riders entitled: Galaxy of Brutality. I know this is one of the most kickass titles I’m reading when it names a volume after a Misfits compilation album. The first volume of Space Riders was a fever dream set in outer space. I’m about to run back through the first four issues again before reading the newest volume’s opening chapter. Stoked.
Let’s take a look at this week’s choice selections, shall we?
PULL LIST FOR 4/5
Sometimes when I look through the weekly solicits, I fear that highlighting only four issues on my pull list is an error on my part and that Wednesday will hold a surprise or two. I don’t think that’s the case anymore. I’ve scaled my weekly pulls way back. It seems that only one or two weeks a month provide me 5+ comic books. I can live with that.
X-Men Gold should prove interesting, if anything. Why Marvel isn’t making this the newest volume of Uncanny X-Men—for years, the main title—beats me in the brain. I will treat it as such, as will Marvel. I think.
Star Wars is so steady-Eddie. We’re picking back up with Luke this week, fresh of traversing the stars with his head buried in Obi-Wan Kenobi’s book of memoirs and tales of Jedi’s past. The Yoda story he/we just read about may end up presenting parallel events Luke is about to face. Jason Aaron and Salvador Larroca do work.
Paper Girls is a title where I am currently four issues behind, all the time. Like, I’ll binge read books like this because so much is happening—a time-displaced adventures such as this. Reading’s easier that way because you have a better sense of “when” you are within the story. Plus, it’s an indie title. Sometimes there can be delays, but Brian K. Vaughn rarely seems to miss a deadline. Cliff Chang provides beautiful art. I first noticed his work on Wonder Woman during Brian Azzarello’s run six years ago.
And, of course, after taking a week off, Superman comics are back for the next four weeks! This week in Superman #20, we come fresh of the hinges of “Superman Reborn,” which reset the Superman continuity. Our Superman now is the same Superman we’ve always known and “New-52 Supes” is also the Superman we’ve always known. They’re one in the same, much like Lois Lane and “New-52 Lois,” and also Jonathan Kent, who has now always been a part of the DC canon. It was well-executed. Super-excited to read the beginning of a new arc.
Well, that’s my time this week. Off to read some comics. Hope everyone has a wonderful week and I’ll catch you later!
Hey, gang! This week’s entry will be a rather short one. It’s been a busy couple of weeks. However, it’s no excuse to not keep up a discipline. I’ve enjoyed my return to the “Blog-o-sphere.” It also serves as a nice companion to my podcast, which is about to drop more pro-wrestling content as the “big week” steadily approaches. Speaking of, I’m looking at a nice, long weekend of cleaning my home as guests start to arrive this Monday for Wrestlemania weekend, next weekend. Good thing I got some needed entertainment out of the way last week. I’m going to be stressed for the next few days.
I finally watched Kong: Skull Island. To my pleasant surprise–at the film’s core—Kong’s a monster movie. The only reason I was surprised at how much of the film was a monster mash is solely based on previous attempts to reignite the fire of movie monsters. They all kind of sucked respectfully. The unfortunate aspect of KSI that I found similar to the crappy monster movies of years’ past was the A-list cast, working off a script an ambitious, 12-year old cinephile could write in the midst of his or her “monster film phase.” But what do I know? Did it work? Yes. That’s probably the most important thing to take away here. Kong: Skull Island is pretty cool.
The Kong fights are awesome. I’m not spoiling anything by revealing that Kong doesn’t interact with humans often, but when he does, it impacts the story on an emotional level. Oh yeah, and the post-credits scene. I’m sure a lot of people know by now what goes down. Fortunately, I was able to tune out anything “spoiler-rific,” although I had suspicions based on recent rumblings from Legendary Pictures. Not sure about you readers, but I’m not a fan on sitting through a film with a post-credit scene where nothing happens. The only exception: Marvel’s Avengers. If you’ve not yet seen Kong, think of the post-credits scene as the real story at the end of the day. Can you watch the last 30 minutes and figure out what’s happening? Most definitely. The ride is worth it, though. So is John C. Reilly. He’s hilarious.
At the conclusion of Kong, I realized that I’ve still yet to see Logan. Know me better than, you know, you, I don’t think I’m going to frustrate myself. I was totally not into X-Men Origins: Wolverine. It took me a second to remember that The Wolverine was the previous Wolvie picture, not Logan. (Which I didn’t see because of [see: prev link].) The X-Men: Origins franchise-to-be never got off the ground because (I think) the Wolverine movie pissed so many readers (me) and fans (also me) off. X-Men/X2-Wolverine works. I’m not getting into the other X-Men films—not directed by Matthew Vaughn—that have since graced us with their, um, “wonder?” Short answer: I’ve witnessed Wolverine do so much bad ass shit in the comics, I don’t want to see him take another one onscreen.
Admittedly, kids of my generation that first started reading comics in the late 80’s were enamored with Wolverine. I was eleven when first introduced to Lobo by some older kids at church who read comics. Even then I knew he was a poor man’s Wolvie. They disagreed. If Wolverine, The Punisher, The Comedian, and Rocket Raccoon were thrown in a blender, Lobo would be the gnarly result—by some weird, biological miracle. A “biker gang Superman,” essentially. Of course, I didn’t say that to those kids. Again, I was eleven. Anyway, you go back and read any Chris Claremont stories from the 80’s, “devil-horns” fly. Jason Aaron really got Logan as well. I dig that Wolverine as a character. I love the X-Men. Enjoy the films, readers. I’ll stick to the old stories instead. (Most certainly not the more recent ones.)
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Oh, please. Not another riff on the apparent travesty that are X-Men comics of the last decade. It’s the same with fans of the Montreal Canadiens. Once, their franchise was unmatched in the NHL, but outside of a few flashes of greatness, they’ve been mediocre bordering on failures since the late 80’s. Sound familiar?
[ED:] Well that was racist.
I just thought that since you were from “Londonbury,” or “Oxlandshire,” that–
[ED:] You’re an imbecile. This is me taking my leave. Copy-edit your commentary regarding the “funny pages.” What’s on your pull list this week?
Sometimes it’s just too easy with that guy. Let’s press on, shall we? Last week was a hefty week of reading. It was a good week, but there was a lot of stories to dig through. This week is totally manageable to remain on-track.
PULL LIST FOR 3/22:
As you all know, Superman Reborn is at the top of my weekly stack. That’s pretty much the way it’s been since my first pull list back in 2000. I don’t know if I’ve ever read Superman series during a period of time where they were unquestionably the best comic books in the game. With Action and Superman each coming out every other week, the story has to be tight. I’ve stated before that Peter Tomasi and Dan Jurgens are killing it. I must also give props to Patrick Gleason, the artist on Superman, who is doing an awesome job visually introducing Jonathan Kent and his massive personality. But, yo, the rotation of artists (Patrick Zircher, Stephen Segovia, Jaime Mendoza, and Doug Mahnke) on Action Comics since Rebirth began has been most impressive. All styles work well in secession. You see this not work in some comics that switch artists like musical chairs.
Sort of like Extraordinary X-Men. It would’ve been nice if Humberto Ramos stayed on the title for a lengthy stay similar to Chris Bachalo’s art on Uncanny X-Men Vol. 3. Bachalo didn’t draw every arc, but a majority of the 30 or so issues contained his pencils. As soon as Ramos left the book’s interiors, so did my interest. Besides, as I’ve previously said, this doesn’t read like a Jeff Lemire comic. However, I am a completest. So, here’s to Extraordinary X-Men: another X-series I’ve wasted my money to complete.
Unworthy Thor is just the opposite. This series could be some of the best money I’ve spent on entertainment in years. Why? Because this companion series to Mighty Thor answers questions that the main ongoing series cannot. Odinson is sick of the notion and rational that he’s no longer worthy to wield Mjolnir. At first, I thought Jason Aaron was just going to have Thor/Odinson accept this and we would see only one Thor in the form of Jane Foster fight the Thor-fights. Oh no. This week, readers discover what it was that the true-blue Nick Fury whispered to Odinson on the moon way back during Original Sin.
That’s going to wrap up this week’s entry. Cannot wait to crack into this week’s stack. Here’s to happy reading, gang! See you next week, hopefully!
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I don’t if any of you can tell, but I’ve been pretty busy adding new content to my website like speculative adventures with the X-Men to my latest episode of MattyLovesPodcast with CHIKARAhistorian, Kevin Ford where we discuss the three latest episodes in the “binge-able” batches CHIKARA Pro Wrestling has released on their streaming service, CHIKARAtopia. There are 30 episodes of MLP now available over at iTunes, SoundCloud, and Stitcher. Of course, the full gambit (including the Wrestling with Football Podcast with Grant Sawyer) leading up to episode #52, is still avail in the YouTube archives. There you’ll hear the episodes that were more topical at the time of release. Stay tuned, there are more podcasts one the way.
I can’t tell you where this inspiration to add more content came from. What I do know that my productivity has a soundtrack. Music is very important to me. In my spells of downtrodden points, music has been a fantastic way of dealing with life’s obstacles. I’m sure you can relate. Music also helps me get out of creative funks, dig through my weekly pile of comics, and vacuum. Since the start of 2017, I’ve read a lot of comics. Last year consisted of me building up a stack and then grinding through it every month or so. Sometimes it felt like work. I’ve still needed to catch up a couple of titles because the backlog of a few titles was getting ridiculous. I dug out some collected editions out of the inventory to revisit with an adult brain (Grant Morrison’s New X-Men, Ed Brubaker’s X-Men run). Recently, I’ve been immersed in two genres of music while escaping into the comic book black hole that is my living room.
The first jammers aren’t really a genre, or maybe they are depending on who you’re talking to. On July 5th, I’m seeing Metallica at the Citrus Bowl down here in sunny Orlando, FL. I’m totally dialed in. However, ‘Tallica hasn’t been on the comic book-reading playlist, so much as being the stars of my “get ready for work” soundtrack. They’re one of those bands that I couldn’t wait to listen to once Mom thought I was old enough to rock. Metallica became an interest around the time I first started watching pro-wrestling. Older kids were on the school bus talking about …And Justice For All, then “The Black Album,” and then the Live Shit: Binge & Purge box set. I knew a kid up the street who had all that stuff to pique my curiosity eve more. Seeing Metallica live has been a lifelong quest. Sure, I’ve had opportunities, but I can also name all the extenuating circumstances that prevented me from seeing them all four attempts. Needless to say, I’m stoked.
The other genre is the soundtrack to any hero who: 1. Can drive fast vehicles, 2. shoot any gun, 3. karate anyone with expertise, 4. jump off high stuff, and 5. knows zero unattractive people in any aspect of personality or physicality. It’s also a brand of music that makes for fantastic background noise for reading, driving, or whatever. I’m talking about Synthwave music.
My curiosity started at an early age with John Carpenter. Fans of his work know that the score to his films make the film. Halloween, Escape From New York, and Big Trouble in Little China, to name a few, provide a rhythmic experience through the adventures, horrors, and magic of Carpenter’s motion pictures. Over the past few years, Carpenter released two volumes of Lost Themes which bestow upon listeners chances to imagine different stories that transpire during each of the previously unreleased tracks.
More recently, I came across the Synthwave band known as Power Glove. For most of you who know me, there’s no reason to explain my relation to the NES controller released in the late 80’s. Long story short, once I heard the sound, I thought of Kung Fury and Stranger Things. I thought of Miami Vice and Giorgio Moroder. I thought of Michael Knight and K.I.T.T. Synthwave takes me to places I want to be. The sound splits the atoms in my brain and sets off a creative explosion. The mushroom cloud of memory fills my head with nothing but a mission to unlock the “what’s next” and the new discoveries that await me within my own tales and the comics I read every day.
I’ll give you five more Synthwave acts that anyone would dig.
Mitch Murder – Have you ever seen the film Kung Fury? (Link’s above.) The awesome score is done by this dude. I first heard of the Swiss producer following my first six viewings of Fury. It’s got a killer soundtrack.
Robert Parker – Another Swiss producer whose sound is a mix of 80’s films and European disco and house beats.
Dynatron – This producer out of Denmark says he’s inspired by 80’s action flicks. I’m pretty sure all these producers are inspired by 80’s action flicks.
The Midnight – This songwriting/producing duo is based out of L.A by way of the southern U.S. and Denmark respectively. They also use a cursive, neon logo. (What’s up with that, by the way? Seems like that’s a thing.)
Lazerhawk – Possibly my favorite band name out of this set of Synthwave acts. This producer is based out of Austin, TX. I’m definitely keeping an eye out to see if he’s heading to the FL area soon.
So that’s what I’ve been jamming to while I grind it out here in the Mattcave. Moving right along, let’s now get into the comics coming out this week. I want to start off by addressing three characters and their respective titles that lived in my pull list rotation for years. It’s weird to think that characters like Batman, the X-Men, and Invincible will soon be eliminated from my weekly pulls. One thing is for sure, two of the three won’t be awaiting my arrival at A Comic Shop in the near future.
I’ll begin with Batman. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on New 52’s Batman is comparable to Geoff Johns’ run on Green Lantern leading up to and during the New 52 relaunch. My reasoning is solely based on the conclusions Snyder and Johns set up. After I read N52’s Batman #52 and Green Lantern #20, I thought, “This is it. Like, why even write stories beyond this point. Nothing will ever be this good.” I tried to stay on and get into Tom King’s recent run of “Rebirth Bats,” but much like Robert Vendetti taking over for Johns on GL titles, it’s just not the same. Couple this with Snyder’s newest Batman series, All-Star Batman, and you have me longing for The Court of Owls. I know Snyder and Capullo have a new Bats project on the horizon entitled “Metal,” but if there is any sort of lead-up, I will be in the dark (unless Rob at ComicsExplained breaks down King’s Batman and the remainder of Snyder’s All-Star series).
Then you have the X-Men.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Another X-Men rant, Matthew? Really?
Oh, there you are, “Ed.” I think I’ve figured out how to catch you, mid-edits.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Obviously. This completely defeats the purpose of my commentary. You can just write me out.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] No. You can’t. And unless you want this to start turning into a Deadpool-type of scenario. Carry on with your gripes about a comic book series that really hasn’t been prevalent in 15 years.]
Look, I’ve made my bones about the travesty that Marvel Comics has made of the X-Men U. It’s awful right now. The X-titles are almost as bad as the scramble before and after House of M. Fortunately, Marvel still had the scribing services of one Chris Claremont to at least make Uncanny X-Men enjoyable. I read recently that Jeff Lemire is leaving Marvel. My high hopes for Extraordinary X-Men were shot once Apocalypse Wars (plural) got underway. In my experience with Lemire’s work, his recent announcement makes sense to why Extraordinary doesn’t “feel” like a Lemire title. I’m not even going to get into Uncanny. I’m sure I’ve asked in previous posts why Marvel’s (supposedly) main X-title consists of all villains. I won’t again. The next event for the X-Men is ResurreXion. Once again, we’ll have TEN X-Men titles that have nothing to do with one another. So stupid. Why don’t we just have Uncanny X-Men and that’s that? How hard would that be to simply build the team back up from a single title? No? You gotta have as much money as possible? I get it. Do your thing, Marvel-money. You won’t see much from my pockets in regards to the X-Men—until they announce the next volume of Uncanny, because, well, I have almost all of them anyway.
My final gripe may be the biggest one of all. No comic book has affected me emotionally as much as Robert Kirkman’s Invincible. I’ve produced podcasts about the series. I’ve gushed about the first 15-20 volumes in past blog posts. For the past two years, the book reads like its been written by a robot programmed by Kirkman to specifically kick out weak stories while Kirkman maintains his duties on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Oliver, Invincible’s half-brother, was recently killed—which is a another “wtf, man” type of tangent I could ignite. If Invicible’s end happened three years ago, I would’ve been wrecked. Due to the fact that the past two years (like, six total issues) of story evoked zero emotions up to the point of—and during—Oliver’s demise, I don’t really care anymore. Now that I know the series ends in ten or so issues, I just want it to be over with. Kirkman, in all intents and purposes, should’ve ended Invincible after issue #100. The past 33 issues have been a waste. Let’s just be real. What a shame. It’s still the best 100 issues I’ve ever read from any story in the super-hero genre. I’ll likely stand by that forever, unless the end is unbearable. Then that would really be a shame.
But enough of the yuck-yuck over comics. There are what they are. Bats, the X-Men, and Invincible will hopefully be back to form one day. Fortunately, there are plenty of titles I’m currently reading that are hitting their strides. Let’s take a look at some examples from my pull list for this week.
PULLS FOR 3/15
HE-MAN/THUNDERCATS 6 (of 6)
I must admit, this is the first hefty week of books in a minute. The Batman and X-Men titles respectively glare back at me. I’m up in the air about All-Star. There is still hope for the finale of Invincible. I probably will flip through Uncanny for the sole purpose that I’ve done so, much like the 500+ issues I’ve purchased before.
I love this mash of comics because the slate is a “time machine” of my favorite things. Let’s start with He-Man, the O.G. within my history of Geek. He-Man/Thundercats is a super-fun, “what if…” crossover where it’s basically the Eternians and Thunderians joining forces to stop Skeletor and Mumm-Ra from destroy everything. It’s a great time.
Superman and Action Comics really rock it out. Last week’s Action revealed that the “DoppelClark” was, in fact, Mr. Mxyzptlk. One really cool thing the folks at DC provided with was a background history of Mr. MITZ-EL-PLIK—oh yeah, and a confirmation that the way I’ve said his name all these years is the correct way. Well, that way, and four others. This week’s chapter will likely be the first book I crack open. The second being the trouble that Jonn-o Kent and Damian Wayne have gotten themselves into.
Warren Ellis’ Wild Storm continues. I dug the first issue where we basically get the introduction to the main cast, which includes Grifter, Zealot, Void, Jacob Marlowe, and Miles Craven. The only character I’m still scratching my head about is Michael Cray. When will be become Deathblow? Did that happen already? I still have a bunch of questions plot-wise.
“The Asgard/Shi’ar War” concludes this week. I’ve said it before (quite a few times, probably), the Shi’ar make things happen. They’re a wonderful combination of personalities and power sets to make themselves formidable—specifically on ground-level combat. You can never sleep on Gladiator. I don’t know if its Jason Aaron’s awesome stories and “Thor-verse” he created, or the insanely talented artists painting the pictures, but Thor-related events and stories for the past five (FIVE!) years have been incredible. Some of the best comic book content I’ve had the pleasure of absorbing in my life as a reader. I mean that. Thor: God of Thunder is a series I would not only recommend to new comic book readers interested in Thor, I would suggest TGoT to anyone who is interested in reading super-hero comic books in general. Jane Foster hasn’t disappointed me in the slightest.
And hey, hey Kill or be Killed is on the list! Again, this is likely going to win my “Best Comic of 2017” when the year is said and done. I’ll do another quick check to see if the series is being optioned as a television series. I haven’t seen anything yet. Just wait, gang. I’m telling you. This series would translate so well to a streaming service like Netflix. Hope you have considered this book to add on your must-read list.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] It is quite good.
See? “Ed” knows. And he’s super-anal when it comes to comics he considers to be palatable much less a form of literature.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Excuse me, I read the “Archies.”
That’s kind of sad, Ed.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] And yet here you are clamoring for the next episode of Riverdale which airs Thursday night.
[EDITOR’S NOTE:] Wrap it up, please.
Another reason I think KobK and other titles from Image Comics are so enjoyable is due to the fact that they’re inexpensive. They never stray from a hard $3.99 on monthly books containing zero ads throughout the story. Amazing Spider-Man #25 is “over-sized” and coming off the shelf at a $9.99 clip. Look, AMS holds one of the torches which continues to guide the Marvel through the endless caverns of canon. Dan Slott is one of the best writers in comics and will likely go down in history as one of the five best writers for the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man. Still though, $10? Really? The book is 96 pages. However, only “40” contain the main story penned by Slott. I don’t know, man. Let’s just hope the corners of the book aren’t torn.
That’s it for this week, gang. Here’s to another excellent week and a rockin’ comic book Wednesday. Have fun! I’ll talk at you soon!
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When I was 8-years old, I had an incredible revelation: Comic books are great.
I wasn’t 14 or 15 before I started to actually read the stories. As a child, the pictures told enough of the story. From the death of Superman to Magneto removing the adamantium that laces Wolverine’s skeleton—these were clear without the necessity of the words to better color the bright and wonderful panels. Out of all the super heroes and villains I grew up following through the pages of comic books, Uncanny X-Men was far and away the easiest brand of comics for me to understand.
It’s kind of crazy to say that. I jumped on to Uncanny with issue #262 and, of course, I had no idea what the heck was going on. I thought Jean Grey had turned into a demon and was dating Banshee. Peter Nicholas (Colossus) fancied himself an artist who was in a relationship with Callisto. I thought Forge was one of the original X-Men. Little did I know that in X-comics, at that time, the Marvel U considered the X-Men dead following the events during Fall of the Mutants. Lost to me was the knowledge that a chunk of the remaining team stepped into the Siege Perilous only to reemerge spread out throughout the globe as different versions of themselves. Still, despite that, the pages clung to my memory.
Another supporting book that added to my “X-hysteria” was Classic X-Men, or X-Men Classic, depending on the date of release. This series was a reprint of the initial run of Uncanny written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne. It also featured stunning covers from Arthur Adams and Steve Lightle, and then later by Mike Mignola. As a new reader, these stories told me the origins of the X-Men who were now the savvy vets who were featured in the first 1989 editions I flipped through.
Nearly twenty years from when I rifled through my first X-Men comics, I decided that I needed to not own all of Uncanny X-Men, I was going to read it too. The initial, “All-New, All-Different” issues #94-108 are pricey. I own a copy of Giant-Size X-Men #1, but I think my run begins around issue #109 or #110. After issue #144, I have nearly every issue of Uncanny. I still need Days of Future Past Part 1 and maybe a random issue in the 330’s for some reason. Outside of maybe two or three issues, I own over 500 issues of Uncanny X-Men.
The stories told by Claremont between the Dark Phoenix (1980) fallout and Mutant Genesis (1991) are what I consider to be the greatest run in the history of comics. It was from that decade of tales where I analyzed and studied the characters coming to my own conclusion that these books are about unity and accepting ever person on this planet as a human being no different than any other. It’s pretty heavy at 28 once you can peel back the layers enough to see how Claremont plays with the notion of social prejudices’ impact on society, particularly those who look different than the rest.
Some of my favorite arcs were The Mutant Massacre, which literally bled into Fall of the Mutants, then on down to the X-Tinction Agenda—which I feel serves as Claremont’s final comic book masterpiece. It is within this particular era (1986-1990) that I decided to highlight some of the best characters and villains. This is also therapeutic for me because all of the X-Men and Mutants in the current Marvel Universe are void of depth and emotion. (Thanks, FOX Studios/Marvel.) So much has done to twist and turn the origins of so many X-Men that it’s hard now to know where any of them originally came from. In my opinion, Marvel should think about re-releasing an “X-Men Classic” title that gives new readers the true origins of some of these characters. I’m not saying reprint the 80’s stuff. Reprint the origins of characters like Elixir and Prestige. Not many new to the X-universe are going to have any idea who they are.
Set-Up: Marvel’s finest have no choice but to once again beg the X-Men to save the world from an unknown alien invasion. I want to emphasize the word “unknown.” The Marvel “elite” have satellite proof that something is coming. Let’s say that the Avengers and other heroes vote on a team to check it out. The team gets obliterated aside from, I don’t know, Tony Stark—who’s still alive in my story’s continuity. Stark returns with the rest of his team—Captain Marvel, Simon Williams, Vision, and Johnny Storm—in shambles. He didn’t get a good look because of the speed of the attack, but there is an armada, and they’re big. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Stark and his fallen team infect the rest of the Avengers and Fantastic Four on hand with a virus causing them to age at a rapid rate.
The heroes’ memories worsen. The villains run amok in New York and elsewhere. Franklin and Valeria Richards, although infected children, age into adulthood and are powerful enough to fight villainy globally. Reed Richards, if he hasn’t already, suggests the X-Men’s aid. As usual, the X-Men are on the outs with the rest of Marvel’s heroes over something. Based on the amount of high-powered team members, S.H.I.E.L.D., S.W.O.R.D., the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Strikeforce Morituri, and whomever agree to contact the X-Men. I am (you are) playing the role of Professor X assembling the right task forces necessary to carry the brunt of the action.
Team-Building: In order for Earth to be well-protected, you have to break up the X-Men into two definitive teams. That’s just what you do. I’m limiting one villain allowed per squad—two squads, six Mutants per team. Only the traditional “dead X-Men” are dead (Jean Grey (Earth-616), Thunderbird, Banshee, the Deadly Genesis crew—which includes Vulcan), but the “loophole-dead” X-Men are available. Maybe some of you readers have a few teams you would chose to defend Earth. Feel free to send away.
Team 1 Headquarters: A small, mobile satellite in direct connection to pretty much any sort of digital device. The base is equipped with an array of defense mechanisms. Let’s say that it’s strong enough to withstand the equivalent of a single, blast of low-level energy from Galactus. After that powerful of an attack: evacuate.
Team 1: “The Interplanetary X-Men” – this team will serve as the front line defending Earth’s orbit from whatever is coming. Considering the setting and the atmosphere, hand-to-hand combat experts aren’t going to do you much good here. we need some of the more “exotic” Mutants to defend the Earth’s atmosphere. Oh yeah, range and firepower. To ensure the safety of the planet, you want some hard-hitters manning Earth’s orbit.
Nate Grey/X-Man – To lead this band of misfits, I need experience. Not to contradict my rules for the roster, I need at least one Omega-level character. Nate is the genetically grown offspring of Scott Summers and Jean Grey. At one point, he was considered to be Marvel’s strongest telepath following the events of the Age of Apocalypse saga. “X-Man,” or “Nate-X,” can literally rip through time like a Hulk Hogan t-shirt via telepathy. He’s strong enough to level entire cities, so, who’s to say this dude can take down an armada of alien warships.
Xorn – I mentioned firepower. Kyan-Yin Xorn’s face is a tiny star/mini sun. He can emit any energy that a sun can produce. Thus—Omega-level electromagnetism, blinding light, radioactive force blasts, etc. Look up the Sun, and then study Xorn. Figure out the possibilities. If some super-fast, super-heavy unknown entity is heading to Earth, having Xorn stationed in Earth’s orbit would be beneficial, particularly if we discover the aliens are powered or depowered by the sun’s energy. Plus, he’s Zen AF so you know he’ll try to keep the nerves of this team in check.
Polaris – She’s the lovechild of Magneto with one of the most convoluted pasts of all the “original” X-Men created before 1976. Without taking into account her current status, I’m looking at Lorna Dane from the aspect of being a badass. That she is. Polaris can manipulate magnetic fields on an Omega-level. Meaning: the magnetic pull of Earth around the sun could possibly be breached or manipulated by Polaris. The same goes for an armada of alien warships. No substance can resist her grasp on control on any magnetic field. Polaris is a character often overlooked. She’s just as powerful as Magneto plus she has the ability to absorb energy—which is something Magneto has a little trouble with. If I need someone to deconstruct a ship that doesn’t make it through the Omega-level “blockade,” Polaris will prove useful as the teams plan to take down the aliens.
Lila Cheney – I tried to go without making too many “selfish” choices. Lila was unavoidable. This X-Man made her Marvel presence known in the late 80’s performing with the Mutant and pop-sensation, Dazzler. Since her stint in New Mutants and Uncanny X-Men/X-Men, Lila hasn’t been around much. A couple of years ago, she had a brief run of appearances during Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel series. Other than that, she’s an untapped resource with amazing potential. Lila is an interstellar teleporter. The difference between she and say, Nightcrawler, is that Lila can teleport from here to Jupiter. Kurt Wagner can only get us from inside a prison cell to outside the prison gates. How would she be important to the team? Depending on the intel this team can gather on these unknown aliens, if we need this intergalactic ragtag bunch to visit these aliens’ homeworld, Lila can get them there, or anywhere in space. She knows the cosmos like a roadmap.
Cypher – One of the biggest issues we face in society is a lack of communication. In Science Fiction, it seems most alien invasions occur because either: A.) We don’t understand/heed the aliens’ warnings, or, B.) The aliens think whatever signals we’re projecting is considered an act of war. Let’s totally cut that miscommunication angle out of the equation by bringing in Doug Ramsey. Cypher can translate any language. Not just human, verbal language, but also body language, the language of electronics, and most importantly extraterrestrial languages. If this unknown armada is using frequencies to contact Earth, its home world, or whomever else, Cypher will encrypt the language in no time flat. This team needs to individuals who communicate well with other people, and other objects.
Madison Jeffries – The other half of the communication factor for this team. How did the X-Men manage to build a mobile satellite so fast? For that matter, how did the X-Men recently build any sort of vehicle, ship, or base so fast? Jeffries is the guy. While Cypher can understand the language of a machine, Jeffries, or codename: “Box,” can literally “talk” to the machine. His mutant power allows him to basically automatically understand and manipulate mechanics. There’s no reason he can’t come up with the design for the most hard-bodied space station ever assembled because he “knows” the mechanisms involved in the construction. Isn’t that crazy? Jeffries is another underutilized Mutant, but I’m not overlooking him for this particular scenario. He’s the one sitting behind the control desk of the mobile satellite doling out orders to the rest of the team.
While the interplanetary squad awaits the arrival of the unknown entity, a select team of Mutants wait patiently before their services are needed. (Note: all remaining Avengers, FF, X-Men, and whomever are still helping defend the planet from everyday threats.)
Moving forward. The second line of defense…
Team 2: “The Ground Unit” – this team will be ready and waiting for the remaining forces to break through the barrier set up by the interplanetary “X-defense.” You don’t want to wreck the planet, but you definitely need some planet-wrecking strength in order to preserve civilization as a whole. There would need to be a few puzzle pieces already connected to ensure that the ensuing invasion could get crazy. Like for instance, me combining two of the X-Men’s most formidable characters because: 1. It could happen. And, 2. I’m watching Legion. He’s a dope Mutant.
“Proteus-Legion” – What if Kevin MacTaggert met David Haller? That would be neat. This arc would play out before the events of the alien invasion story. Legion could “see” it coming and project it out to the rest of the X-Men—who just subdued Haller and MacTaggert thanks to the help of Nate Grey returning to the fold with his telepathic ridiculousness. That way, as long as Legion can keep Kevin/Proteus in check, we’re looking at what could possibly be the most powerful Mutant ever. This is the scapegoat character that can sway every advantage with a snap of a finger. A “trope-y” individual that could potentially be strong enough to overthrow an entire alien or human culture/society. I also need a wildcard in case I get painted into a creative corner.
Elixir – When I was first introduced to Joshua Foley in X-Men comics, I couldn’t get into him. He’s a healer, big deal. It seems like there are so many other heroes and villains that have regenerative abilities. It wasn’t until years later when I discovered how important of a Mutant Elixir really is. Joshua has the ability to restructure his and other physiologies on a molecular level. Basically, he could rebuild you into a completely different person. He can cure cancer is he wanted to or even bring back the dead. The only problem, he can’t control his abilities. Such a common trope with super-powered individuals in comics—and life. With guys like Beast and Xorn around to mentor Elixir, his powers may prove useful if there happen to be casualties or a stray alien that he can dissect.
Hope Summers – Take all of the “ground unit” members and understand their power sets. Now take Hope and throw her next to any of them. She more or less presents you with having two Elixirs, two Legions, or two “young Jeans.” Not only is she a living Blue Lantern Ring, but she also can “copy” the abilities of any adjacent Mutant. Pretty nasty. She’s useful if an attack needs to be repelled with an array of offence. Due to the other heavies on this team, she double’s this X-squad’s firepower.
Jean Grey (Earth-TRN220) – One simple rule when forming a team of X-Men based around a speculative threat: If Jean Grey is available, use her. That, and if the team member is a redhead, use them. Her ridiculous power level is the main reasons she remained dead for so long. Technically “our” Jean is still dead. However, Beast went back in time three years ago and fished out the original five X-Men from the 60’s, or I guess what would be the 70’s or 80’s depending on Marvel continuity. The biggest “grab” was undoubtedly Jean Grey returning to the current Marvel canon. Although she’s still a teenager, she was hit off with the memories of the veteran X-Men, which fast-forwarded her learning process. So, this Jean is basically an 18-year old with the knowledge of the life ahead of her (X-Men stories of the past 50 years). If your Jeanie, that’s potentially a scary, scary, thing. Like I said, you gotta get past the psychological bend and enlist Jean Grey because she’s the most powerful Mutant in existence.
Namor – He’s the first Mutant—a fact that often goes unchecked. As a kid, when I first discovered that Namor was a Mutant, I wondered why in the heck he was never an X-Man. Then, Brian Michael Bendis made my dreams come true in many ways with Dark X-Men. Namor was killed during the events of Secret Wars but I still believe he’s around somewhere due to the Squadron Supreme monthly solicitation descriptions. Either way, he’s on my team. For the record, it’s impossible for anyone not to join up once Nate or Jean Grey are convinced to join because, well, mind-powers! Anyway, what makes up 71% of the planet? 61% of the human anatomy? Water. Namor has a pretty solid control over the seas, or at least water. I’m all about writing a Namor that has hydro-manipulation. Why not? It’s my story! If the aliens attack Earth, Namor will have Atlantis and the seas ready to defend.
Dr. Henry McCoy (Earth-616) – Finally rounding out the team is the brain of the bunch. Beast is who I would confer with as I assembled these teams. Plug Hank in the X-Mansion and have him push the buttons and relay the orders. He’s a genius, but he’s also a gentle character with a calming voice. In the X-Men’s darkest hours, there is no other voice I want to hear than Beast’s to ensure them of their safety. He’s another member of this team I picked based on experience alone. Plus, he’s connected to all of the other super-teams within the Marvel U. We need that buffer in case the “s” hits the fan.
IN REVIEW: Unknown aliens are on their way to Earth. Marvel needs the X-Men’s help.
On the super-defensive, mobile satellite, the front lines – X-MAN, XORN, POLARIS, LILA CHENEY, CYPHER, and MADISON JEFFRIES
Inside the X-Mansion, hoping the aliens don’t get through the front lines, but you know some will because it’s comics – a PROTEUS/LEGION hybrid, ELIXIR, HOPE SUMMERS, “Young” JEAN GREY, NAMOR, and BEAST
Now the questions: What will happen? Who are the aliens? How powerful are they? Will the interplanetary squad be able to stave off enough of the warships? If so, will the X-Men team on Earth be enough to quell this invasion? What about the aging? What’s that shit about? Will that plot detail get “WildStorm 98’d” out of the story? And let’s be real, what will Legion—the new vessel for Proteus—put the X-Men and heroes of Earth through while the aliens attack the interplanetary heroes? Is that a story in itself? What in the world is going on here?
I’m glad this is merely a speculative story—not a D&D campaign, much less a comic book series. As the guy who just dumped this on my readers, I think it’s a pretty basic crossover story that could’ve been released 1995. It may have already and I’m just not digging into my subconscious far enough. Either way, I would love to hear back from you folks in regards to what teams you would throw in front of our planet to stop and alien invasion. You don’t have to limit yourselves to just the X-Men either. I would ask that you stay within the parameters of the “Set-Up.” Feel free to drop me a line via Twitter or the MLP Facebook page. And if you like these speculative synopses, let me know. I love doing this kind of stuff. While you all do that, I’ll try and figure out the physiology and goal of these invading, unknown aliens.
Thanks for playing!
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It’s been too long. For some time now I haven’t officially submitted anything from my brain onto this domain I pay for, and for that, I’m sorry. It’s not that there were no words to hammer out on a keyboard. It’s not like I haven’t had a little time to update my life for you and whoever else that cares for my radical and wild existence. I have. There’s work and school and… Ah, who am I kidding, website? I’ll admit got away from the usual exuberance I usually get from comic books. The holidays weren’t a drag so much as an excuse to take it easy. Sure, there’s the weekly, late night, Frisbee golf tournaments in the parking lot of my workplace. I guess I could be home—with you, website—adding more words for more reading eyes. But to be honest with you, I was spending a lot of time with my eyes on a computer screen and not on the “life-management screen.” I’m healthy. I’m happy, but I need a little bit of humanity and culture outside of my stories, YouTube channels, and comic books.
I missed you, too. Look, I know you’ve seen the moves I’ve been making over at iTunes and SoundCloud. I’ve dug down into the depths of empty pockets to find enough scratch to finally give the world no reason not to listen to MattyLovesPodcast. After working on uploading old content from the YouTube archives, I’ve just about re-released most of the content I deemed the best of the best of the best. Now that I’m just about finished with that process, I can start recording shows again. That way, I can uber-compile content and then be faced with the “AH! WHAT DO I DO?!” situation. Totally fine with that, website. However, I must complete the uploads before the reloads, if you catch my little play off the word “load” there.
No. That wasn’t meant to sound sexual. I’m talking about reloading my computer with more freshly recorded episodes of MLP. Anyway…
The real reason I’m reconvening with you today is because of the new content I’ve experienced in the forms of film, television, and comic books. Especially comics! You stoked up, website? I just dropped $6.99 on trade paperbacks of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men: Assault on Weapon Plus and Planet X. Trades, website! I didn’t pull the bonehead mistake of spending $7 each on New X-Men issues 130 through whatever. I’m growing up! (Plus, I think I might have most of Morrison’s X-Men run in longboxes safely housed at my resort-getaway-chateau in Blue Ridge, Virginia.)
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh, please. It’s your parents’ home. Or your parents’ dog’s home, I should say, dear boy.]
Yeah, website. I don’t like him either. He thinks I don’t catch the edits before I re-edit.
Well, why would I erase his “notes?” I think it adds to the hysteria of my history.
Yes, I need a girlfriend. I knew I could come back to you for some sort of scant reminder. Good ol’ website.
Pressing on—before the interruptions—I’m reading a lot. The daily reads haven’t been this frantic in quite a while. There is so many great ideas going for Marvel, DC, and Image Comics. Even IDW is making a solid effort to reestablish some of the characters from my generation’s favorite syndicated cartoons. I’ve trimmed the fat of my weekly pull list—which I usually post each Wednesday via my Twitter account. I’m back to bare essentials: read what you like. Sure, there are some books that pique my interest, but those books often pop up on Rob Jeffereson’s Comics Explained series. For real, website, this guy is who I tell people to go to if they don’t have time to read the “major” titles in comics past and present.
Say you ask me: “What’s good right now, Matty? Like, what is a game-changing book in the current realm of canon within the ‘Big Two?’”
No, not “you” meaning you, website. Those “reading eyes,” remember?
People of Earth. Viewers of MattyLoves. I’m now speaking to you.
Let’s start with DC Comics. Do you know how long I’ve wanted to hop on the internets and type up a gushing salute to whatever genius managed to (for the time being) right the wrecked ship that were the Superman titles? Folks, you can go back on my blog and see my torrid history with giving the creators telling “Big Blue” stories a chance. The only guy who swung for the fences and came away with a decent average was Dan Jurgens. If you know the history of Superman’s writers, Jurgens basically gave Superman depth, story, and a more robust catalog of imposing threats—namely, Doomsday.
Jurgens is now joined by Peter Tomasi (holy geez, read his run on Green Lantern Corps). Together, they’ve brought Superman back to, arguably, the best character to get to know in 2017. New 52 turned out to be a disaster across all the titles for the standpoint of overall story. ‘Member Convergence? Yeah, pretty confusing. But the one saving grace from that comic event was the Superman who existed before the New 52 is now the Superman of this “Rebirth” era for DC Comics. Superman and Action Comics are currently exploring Superman in this new world, but also looking into the fallout from the death “Prime Earth” Superman of DC’s New 52.
The best part about this new direction for “our” Superman is during the goings on in Convergence, pre-New 52 (or “New Earth”) Lois Lane got pregnant. She and Clark Kent welcomed their baby son, Jonathan, into this new world. (The one miracle from that “event.”) So, now Superman has to raise his son—who is, of course, developing powers—alongside Lois, who is trying to get acclimated to this new world herself. It’s going to get interesting once the major cosmic villains want to take over Earth, and then find out Superman has a son. Can we say: leverage? Abduction? Possibilities galore. Then there is the issue of—who we think is—the New 52 Clark Kent, who is alive and still around preventing the current Superman from dawning the Clark Kent persona. This Clark looks exactly like, but is definitely not Superman. No powers, but has a disgusting sugar habit. I love the sweets, but this Kent probably eats fruit candy like Starburst and Twizzlers, which I deem disgusting and a plague on society. This Kent is bordering on creepy. “I drive an ice cream truck”-creepy.
Confused? That’s why you guys should be reading Superman books! Not just these, but there are a few other related titles rocking it out. China’s got a New Super-Man, Lana Lang is “Red Electric” Superman, and you know DC had to put together a Super Sons team-up book featuring “Jonn-o” Kent and Damian Wayne. I highly suggest Superman titles to anyone right now trying to find their first comic to read, or those finding their way back.
I told you, website. I got that fevah again.
Some other DC titles to possibly flip through are:
He-Man/Thundercats—because why the eff not? If you read comics, are in and around the ages of 30-40, and also read this blog, I hope you’re up to speed on this title and the previous volumes of Masters of the Universe stories from DC.
Wonder Woman—hey, despite DC editorial taking Brian Azzerello’s character-altering saga and swiftly burning the story and the New 52 WW to the ground, who better to bring her back up than Greg Rucka? He’s got solid chops for Diana Prince. It shows. Now that titles like Superman, Action, Batman, and Detective—to name a few—are solicited twice a month, it gives creators many options structurally speaking. The main options being: 1. Does the creator make the title a concurrent arc with possible crossovers and one-shot, character development stories? 2. Or does the creator take advantage of the two books per month and stagger stories? Rucka chose option #2 and I feel it has paid off so far. He’s telling stories of Diana’s past and present that intertwine in their respective plots despite not taking place concurrently. To my knowledge, this is the only title of the “Rebirth” line that is utilizing this brand of storytelling.
Warren Ellis’ Wild Storm—I’ve mentioned in previous posts and podcasts that I love the old WildStorm stuff from Image Comics during the mid to late 90’s. If there is a chunk of comic book knowledge I possess that will get me nowhere in most comic book discussions, it entails the history of the WildStorm U and “Project: Genesis.” One of my comic book idols, Jim Lee, founded the original studio then sold it to DC back in the early 2000’s. After a not-so-successful relaunch, the WildStorm U “dissolved” into the pre-New 52 DCU. Not a lot survived. The New-52 campaign saw the return of some familiar WildStorm faces like Grifter, a weird semblance of Team 7, and I think Voodoo had a title. I liked what they did with Grifter during Flashpoint, but he didn’t get a lot of play beyond his 18-19 issue series that was a part of the second run of New 52 cancellations. Anyway, all that said, Warren Ellis—who wrote a good bit of what I consider to be classic WildStorm gold—has been hired by Lee to relaunch a batch of these old characters who get their own universe within the DC Multiversity. To this point of publication, there has only been one issue. Maybe I’ve been hankering for WildStorm content to return, but I think this line of books will be awesome as long as they hang on to Ellis.
Still with me, website? I guess I could finish up here with what I plan on scooping Wednesday, but I promised the readers other suggestions from Marvel and the indies. So, let’s move on.
WARNING: The following rant isn’t telling you to not read the soon-to-be addressed line of books. See for yourself. Marvel’s X-Men comics have become comparable to DC’s Superman comics during the New 52 era. The only difference is that it is hard to write about Superman without really shaking up his character/family dynamic. With the X-Men, it seems all Marvel’s editorial staff wants to do is constantly change everyone’s character dynamic. Nothing has stuck since Brian Michael Bendis’ run on his X-Men titles. I love Jeff Lemire’s stuff. We’ll get to that later, but there is no way I believe he should be held minutely responsible for the mail-in job Marvel’s done leading up to the end of all this Inhumans vs. X-Men nonsense. Marvel wanted us to care about the Inhumans. Some do. Some did. (I did, see: War of Kings.) Some are still sore with the fact that Marvel may have lost full rights to the X-Men forever. I’m proud to say I’m a part of the latter clan. Once we, the fans, discovered Marvel is, yet again, reshaping the X-Men universe with ResurreXion, books like Cullen Bunn’s Uncanny X-Men and Lemire’s Extraordinary X-Men went full-on “autopilot.” (I had such high hopes.) Maybe I’ll take a moment to discuss my thoughts on the new line of books down the line.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: I should’ve just thrown this bit out all together. The X-Men are long gone. It’s Marvel’s ultimate loss from the comic bust of the late 1990’s. Move on, Matty.]
But enough of the bad, let’s get to all of the awesomeness. I’ll start with Iron Man. Admittedly, I didn’t read a lick of the Civil War II mini-series. “Secret Wars redux” burnt me good in “201$” with the delays, weak tie-ins, etc. (Loved the main story!) I didn’t want to go near CWII once I found out the aforementioned Inhumans played a big part. Fortunately, reading books like Invincible Iron Man and Amazing Spider-Man kept me up to speed on the Civil War II stuff. One thing that I’ve noticed with both Marvel and DC are how they’re taking these longtime, wretched villains and turning them into genuinely good guys. Doctor Doom is a prime example. Now the details are hazy, but I do believe that Tony Stark/Iron Man was “killed” during the events of Civil War II—the reason I say this is because I’ve only read the first of the four or five issues of Bendis’ new volume of Invincible Iron Man starring the adorable Riri Williams that currently lay in a stack on my coffee table of recent titles I need to run through. I’m sure I’ll soon find out Stark’s fate. Anyway, Doom is now one of the new “Iron Men” traversing the globe bashing baddies—and also The Thing because, well, you think Thing’s going to believe Doom’s a good guy? After Secret Wars culminating with Doom’s realization of genuine fear (a first), he’s now reformed and wants to reshape the world to be a better place rather than Doom’s selfish “vision” of a better place. Or, at least that’s what Bendis wants us to generalize. Much like Lex Luthor in Action Comics, I am looking forward to these villains realizing they’re never going to change. They’re not good men. They’re nature is evil. It’s coming. I’ve read too many comics.
I mentioned Amazing Spider-Man. This blog has often been home to rave reviews of Dan Slott’s run on Amazing. It’s undeniably fantastic. The Clone Conspiracy wraps up Wednesday with a classic Marvel “Omega” event. Knowing Slott’s storytelling style, nothing is ever settled. I’m sure more questions will be raised. Clone Conspiracy was basically Slott bringing back The Jackal yet again, only he’s not who he seems. It’s someone else claiming to be the new Jackal. The story’s still fresh. I don’t want to give much away. In the past, if you saw the word “clone” in a Spider-Man title, it was not promising. Slott does an excellent job of erasing most of the anguish of the Spidey-clone events of days gone by. Call me “Wrong Guy Randy,” but I want to say Slott has written close to 200 issues of Amazing Spider-Man. If you’ve never read his stories, oh man, good luck catching up. Clone Conspiracy is a good jumping on point, though. Check it out.
A few other Marvel titles to consider:
Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight—I’m positive this is the only title I’ve ever blogged about that I have yet to read. Based on his X-Men stuff, I wasn’t clamoring for this book despite my love for Moon Knight. Above, I posted the link for the Comics Explained YouTube channel. From those videos, I realized that this series would have to be added to my weekly pull list. The only problem is that Lemire’s Moon Knight run ends soon. As some of you know, most current Marvel titles don’t go past issues #15 or #16 before getting relaunched as a new volume. And that’s so stupid. Issue numbers are so meaningless nowadays.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Oh, boo hoo.]
But I digress. For anyone who doesn’t read weekly titles and choose to pick up the occasional collected editions, this plan works out. My patience for Lemire’s collected Moon Knight run will be worth it despite knowing most of what happens. However, because I haven’t read it, I’m not going to explain or speculate anything. I’ll just say that if you watch Rob’s videos explaining the plot—holy crap. I guess I should also recommend Lemire’s Thanos miniseries currently on the shelves. It’s three issues deep and I’m definitely reading this series at the moment. Not missing out on this one. It’s Thanos. I need even more reason to take a crap on the movie version presented in Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2, hopefully.
Any Marvel title written by Jason Aaron—Creators like Lemire and Jason Aaron are who I consider to be top-notch as far as not only telling great stories, but consistently releasing their Marvel titles on time. Aaron currently writes Doctor Strange, The Mighty Thor, The Unworthy Thor miniseries (soon to end), and Marvel’s Star Wars ongoing series, which Aaron has penned since issue one. Everything about these titles project a portrait of consistency and care. When you read each of these books you can tell how much Aaron cares about all of his characters. This extends to his independent work as well. Thor has been one of the best heroes in the Marvel U since the release of Thor: God of Thunder during the initial release of the “Marvel NOW!” line. From there, Aaron has grown a tree of beauty and reason. The motivations of his Thor, Strange, Luke, and Yoda are always clear. Never as a reader do I ask myself, “What’s happening here?” (See: X-Men, or Invincible—don’t get me started on that one.) Much like the newest volume of Invincible Iron Man, I’m about five issues behind on Doctor Strange. The first two arcs story paired with Chris Bachalo’s and Kevin Nowlan’s art were dynamite. I love all the new characters. The same goes for Star Wars. A lot went on in between A New Hope and Empire. Aaron delivers on the “what” every month “…in a galaxy far, far away.”
Almost through this, website. Should I break it up into parts? No? Just give the readers a good read? Okay. I think I agree with you.
Jeff Lemire’s Descender has made appearances on the blog. The book is still kicking ass. There’s a robot war coming. I’m so ready for it. This event what I believe the book has headed for from the start.
Kaare Andrews’s Renato Jones: The ONE % was probably my favorite series of 2016 from any publisher. It’s so good. I’m not even a guy who gives a crap about class or social status. If I did, this would still be my favorite book from 2016, obviously. Some big-time bankers are sleazeballs. Renato shoots those guys in the face with a knife-gun. Need I say more?
Last but not least is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Kill or be Killed. I’m telling you that these guys touch on just about every nerve in my brain-factory with not only the way Dylan’s story plays out by also with the layouts, colors, and images in the title. Dylan is guy who doesn’t know where he is in life, but he’s not making good decisions to help himself out. These decisions hinder his ability to get a grip on what he needs in order to be happy. Instead, he tries to kill himself. Doesn’t work. The consequences of failing the attempt on his life may prove worse than suicide. That sounds crazy enough, right? What if I told you Dylan becomes a vigilante killer? What I won’t tell you is the “why.” The first trade is out now. It’s a bargain. Five issues will suck you in. Trust me. “It’s not what you think” type of stuff
Alright, website. Let’s see: Life status, reading lots of comics… Oh! I guess I should conclude with what I’m picking up Wednesday, March 1.
What’s that? “What about ‘forms of film and television?'” Crapbags! I forgot to talk about FX’s Legion, CW’s Riverdale, and John Wick! Looks like I’ll have to shelf that commentary for a later time. It’ll give the readers something to look forward in the near future. Plus, it leaves this entry unfinished, according to me. Let’s get on with the list for this week, website.
PULL LIST for 3/1/2017
Whoa. See, this is a case-and-point example of how I’ve “trimmed the fat.” After compiling my books, I noticed there are about five other titles released Wednesday that I started to read, but lost interest. These comics won’t even run me $20 this week. Of course, there could be an oversight or two. You never know with Image. Either way, this used to be considered a light week but I guess now it’s becoming the norm. And wouldn’t you know it? All of these books I previously mentioned. This actually makes the close of this recent entry easier than I thought, website.
It was good to hand this over to you. I haven’t kicked out 3000 words dedicated to my interests in quite a while. Say, website, don’t get too lonely. I’m not far away. I’ll be back soon and hopefully have more to tell you and the reading eyes. Until then. I’m going to crack into these Invincible Iron Man issues I’ve backlogged. Catch you later!
Matt de Simone is a freelance writer who is currently stationed in the outskirts of Orlando, Florida, fighting the never-ending battle to find his place in this wacky world.